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Review: Ruger Marlin Model 1895 SBL

Review: Ruger Marlin Model 1895 SBL

Ruger’s re-released Marlin Model 1895 SBL is a familiar-feeling centerfire lever-action rifle packing a short-range punch with impressive accuracy.

‘Smooth’ best describes the 1895. Superficially, it looks and works as expected - but Ruger has refined some key elements. Chambered in .45.-70 Gov’t with attractive nickel plating and several changes absent from recent Remington Marlins, the gun demonstrates impressive power at close distances.


The Marlin still features a solid-top receiver, underbarrel tubular magazine and right-side cartridge feed for its 6-round magazine. It’s an attractive weapon - our test rifle featured polished stainless steel receivers, longer optics rails, tasteful black and grey laminate fittings and large loop-style levers.


The wood-laminate front end is much slimmer than on Remington Marlins, making it easier for most hand sizes to grip. The furniture is darker - and the laser-etched Marlin logo is a nice touch that replaces the expected black pistol grip cap.


Heat-treated stainless steel parts allow a tighter overall assembly - trigger, lever and loading port are smoothed via tumbling, creating a more comfortable rifle that works seamlessly. The spiral-fluted bolt not only looks cool, but contributes to drag reduction.

Initially, the 1985’s closer shooting proximity doesn't earmark it as the most versatile stalking gun. If you’re dealing with hyper-alert prey, executing a clean shot past 300 yards can prove challenging. In fact, on demanding hunts, effective distances may be as close as 100-150 yards.

In practice, the 1895 outputs incredible knockdown power.

Follow up shots are effortless thanks to its incredibly smooth action, giving you crucial extra seconds for split-second decisions to ensure humane kills.

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The 1895 has been retooled for accuracy, which quickly becomes apparent when zeroing with a Leupold rifle scope. You can use standard or long-eye relief scopes or even a red-dot thanks to the gun’s extended optics rail - HIVIZ sights have superseded older XS ghost-ring sights. Tellingly, the 19” hammer-forged barrel now features 11/16x24 TPI threads for installing suppressors and muzzle brakes.


Small internal changes elevate the Ruger Marlin above previous models. Enhanced thread timing between barrel and receiver correctly aligns both sights. Trigger pulls are cleaner and sear engagement more consistent with precision-cut hammer notches. The redesigned chamber is noticeably quicker and more efficient.


When the lever actuates downward, the locking block drops while the bolt draws back: spent cases are ejected at the same time as cocking the hammer and chambering a new round. The upstroke levers the carrier upwards, optimally positioning the next cartridge for the returning bolt to send it into the chamber.


Under test conditions, our Marlin shot with accuracy and consistency exceeding the lever-action class. There was zero takeup or overtravel from the trigger’s single-action break, and 10 trigger pulls averaged a 5 lb 5 oz release.

More than just a re-release, Ruger has reimagined the recently-derided Marlin into a potentially brand-redefining icon.



Source: American Rifleman

Head Office Address

Viking Arms Ltd, Summerbridge, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG3 4BW

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